This week, Lakewood experienced its first morning of frost. Waking to a clear, sunny sky on Tuesday morning, I found that our neighborhood’s roofs were all glistening white, and so were the front lawns. The thermometer showed me a mere 31 degrees Fahrenheit. An hour later, the sky was clouded, and the magic was gone.
Frost. To me it’s a first messenger of what I call the cozy season. The time that holds all the festiveness a season can hold – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, New Year’s Eve. No supermarket shelf with displayed Halloween or Christmas items works it for me as Jack Frost does.
Frost is, by definition, vapor that hits a surface whose temperature is below freezing and accordingly turns into a thin layer of ice. The thicker the frost crystals are piled up onto each other, the whiter they appear to the eye. Black frost happens when the humidity is very low, and, therefore, the piling of crystals is very thin.
The perfect cabbage is harvested after the first frost has gone over it. Other produce might be damaged by frost. Vintners sometimes leave their grapes on the vine in order to wait for a freeze of 18 degrees F to hit and then gather the frozen fruit for an extra-sweet ice wine. Harvesting ice wine is, of course, a gamble with time – so it’s harvesting as fast as one can before the sun hits. And if no freeze occurs, the harvest is a loss.
Ah, Jack Frost, the sprite with whom people have a love-hate relationship. He’s nipping at our nose in a Christmas carol. He paints the foliage into colorful hues. He is mischievous and helpful. He occurs in different traditional mythologies or changes into similar characters such as Old Man Winter, Father Frost (Russia), or Frau Holle (Germany). He occurs in books, songs, movies, even in cartoons and video games! He makes us freeze and cuddle up.
You bet, my first cup of coffee tasted extra-good last Tuesday, while I was dreaming into the glittery, sun-filled world outside my window. I felt grateful for the warmth that came from our heater. I began to dream of stews, hot soups, and casseroles, of sitting in front of the fireplace on cold evenings, of candle light, and decking the halls. All because of some thin layer of crystals that arrived in the early morning and was gone in a jiffy. But the cozy feeling stays.